Monday, October 18, 2004

Cricket trivia scam alert!

If you can't trust Paul Harvey, who can you trust?

For those of you who don't know, Paul Harvey is a guy who has done little "lighter side of the news" radio commentary for years and years ... well, actually for several centuries. Paul Harvey could solve a lot of history's mysteries just by casting his mind back. But you can still hear him for about 45 minutes on certain radio stations (usually the ones that are going for some folksy charm, or else just have trouble filling an entire programming day) telling you little news stories about stupid thieves, old ladies with weird pets, goofy things that people said and (getting to my point, as I sometimes do) ... little bits of folk wisdom.

And so Mr. Harvey saith: If you want to know what the temperature is, listen to how many times a cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add 40.

And I said to the radio, "What?"

And he repeated the whole thing for me again (who says radio isn't an interactive medium?): If you want to know what the temperature is, listen to how many times a cricket chirps in 14 seconds and add 40.

I want credit for the fact that even riding along in my car with other things on my mind, that just sounded problematic. Fourteen seconds? How am I going to know when fourteen seconds is up? I can't count "Mississippi's" or I'll lose track of the cricket chirps. If I just count the chirps, I'll misjudge the seconds and decide that the crickets are telling me it's 312 degrees outside. (I'm not very good at judging seconds.) And Paul Harvey didn't even tell me whether it was Fahrenheit or Centrigrade. I mean, it was probably Fahrenheit, but how do I know? Maybe he was feeling European today.

Still, Mr. Harvey didn't get where he is today by not knowing what's interesting trivia. I thought about it, and just now when I took the dog out, I thought about it again. The crickets were doing their little bit for me, and I thought, "Now's the time to avail myself of the ancient Native American ways." Except it just turns out to be the most utter crap.

You can't count the cricket chirps because they're all going at the same time. They don't take turns, and one cricket sounds a whole lot like another. And you can't look at your watch and hope to count cricket chirps while looking at seconds because ... (probably everyone is way ahead of me) ... it's DARK outside.

Talk about irresponsible reporting! I think Paul Harvey just makes this stuff up by day and then cackles himself to sleep all night. And by the way, I just looked it up on the internet -- it's 51 degrees, and yes, that's Fahrenheit.


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